Monday, October 26, 2009

Midlife Crisis: It’s All in Your Head

By Nadia Koligman

The term “midlife crisis” is often used to refer to a time of discontent, confusion and inner turmoil that many of us experience as we approach or enter middle adulthood.

Commonly thought to happen around the age of 50 or so, midlife crisis very often occurs across a much wider age range. Some people can experience it in their early 30’s while others may not feel it until they are well into their 60’s…or not at all. Mine hit me when I was only in my mid-thirties.

Although age-related biological changes can sometimes contribute to and intensify midlife issues, “midlife crisis” is less about age or biology and more about psychological and spiritual change. 

The “symptoms” of midlife crisis vary from person to person but commonly include one or more of the following:

  • You frequently catch yourself wondering, “Is this all there is?” You experience a gnawing sense that something is missing in your life, but seem unable to pinpoint what that “something” really is.
  • Your life seems constrained, shallow, small, bland or hollow.
  • Your career is no longer as fulfilling as it once was and you yearn for something more meaningful.
  • The wonderful possessions that you worked so hard to acquire no longer mean as much to you as they once did.
  • You find yourself feeling lost, confused, anxious, restless, bored, resentful, frustrated, or angry…often for no apparent reason. 
  • You realize that your life no longer reflects (or worse yet, never reflected) who you really are.
  • Your life feels like it’s moving in the wrong direction or like it has no direction at all.
  • You feel disconnected from yourself and no longer know who you really are.
  • You feel disconnected from your own life. You watch yourself going through the motions of living but don’t really feel “alive.”

With all this inner turmoil going on, it’s no wonder this phase of life has been labeled “midlife crisis.” It certainly feels like a crisis to the unsuspecting person caught in the midst of it!

So why do we feel this way?

Well, for one thing, this is a time when we begin to confront—or at least glimpse—our own mortality. We begin realizing that the clock is ticking on our lives and we want the time we have left to be more fulfilling and meaningful than what we’ve experienced thus far.

We start to question the choices we’ve made in life. We wonder what it is that we really want now. We’re surprised by our inability to answer that question. We begin to realize just how much we’ve lost touch with ourselves and how little we seem to know about that aging person staring back at us from within the mirror.

The old self-image that we’ve come to reply upon no longer seems to work very well, but we’re not yet able to articulate a new self image to replace the failing one. It’s as if we’re stuck in a void between who we were and who we might become. The sand is shifting beneath our feet and we’re not really sure where solid ground is anymore. As a result, we often feel off balance, confused, anxious and frustrated.

Like a reptile needing to shed its skin, we instinctively want to shed our old life for a fresher, deeper and more authentic version. Our internal, authentic Self—call it core essence, soul, spirit, heart, or even “Martha” if you wish—yearns to finally express itself after years of living life on someone else’s terms. Our inner self wants to spread its wings and allow our highest vision of ourselves (and of our life) to take flight.

We may also feel conflicted about moving forward. Although part of us wants “something more”, there is another part of us that wants to maintain the status quo and remain safely inside our comfort zone. We realize that what we crave—the “something more”—lies outside of our comfort zone in uncharted territory…and that feels scary as hell!

The key factor in transforming midlife upheaval into something of positive and lasting value is to truly understand what “midlife crisis” really is. It’s not a crisis at all…it’s a crossroads.

The inner turmoil we feel during our “midlife crisis” (regardless of our actual age) is our soul’s way of getting our attention and telling us that it’s time to take a different path, one which will allow us to live life in a more authentic and meaningful way.

If these issues sneak up on us and we don’t realize what’s actually going on, then what we experience does indeed feel like a crisis. But if we acknowledge what’s really going on and see it as a wonderful opportunity to revamp or redesign our lives, then that same midlife upheaval now has a purpose and it becomes a pathway or bridge to a more authentic, well-integrated and fulfilling life.

Midlife transition is not always an easy process. It requires that you leave your comfort zone and enter uncharted territory. You’ll need to face your fears, doubts and demons. You’ll need to stretch your mind and challenge your limiting beliefs. You’ll need to give yourself permission to be who you are capable of becoming.

However, if you venture out into the crossroads with your eyes open and navigate this amazing terrain with your heart as your compass, you’ll not only be able to create remarkable positive changes in your life, but you’ll also experience profound personal growth.

The good news is midlife crisis can be transformed into a wonderful, life-changing adventure. All it takes is a little attitude adjustment.

Nadia Koligman is a life design strategist, author, blogger, and the Founder and President of Dreamnautics Media.

To learn more about her, please visit her websites: and While there you can sign up to receive a free copy of her Special Report “12 Powerful Ways to Boost Your Life Quality” ( ) and find out more about her home study program “Getting Ready for Change: The Dreamnautics® Guide to Preparing Yourself for a Major Career or Life Transition.”

You can also follow Nadia on Twitter at 

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